By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, April 10, 2013 - 0 Comments
Yesterday evening, after CP reported that Sony was concerned about the tariff requirements on iPods, I emailed the Finance Minister’s office to ask if there was any response.
Tonight, the Finance Department sends along the following response.
“iPods and other MP3 players have come into Canada duty free in the past under 9948. iPods and other MP3 players continue to be eligible to come into Canada duty free under 9948 in the future.”
Both CP and Mike Moffatt have reported that sellers must obtain a certificate from the final consumer to qualify for the exemption under 9948. I’ve asked the Finance Department to confirm that and will post the response as soon it is received.
Meanwhile, Moffatt reported earlier tonight that Sony has already paid this iPod tax.
I have just learned that Sony has already paid an iPod tax on a number of their Walkman MP3 products including their Sony 2GB Wearable MP3 Player (NWZW262B). These items entered the country under 9948.00.00, but were re-assesed after the fact, as Sony could not produce end use certificates.
By Peter Nowak - Monday, January 14, 2013 at 4:38 PM - 0 Comments
It’s not much of a stretch to predict that we’re going to see some new video game consoles this year. It might be a little surprising, however, to suggest that Microsoft is going to jump to a commanding lead in this ongoing console war and that the battle may go from the current three players to four–at least for the time being.
The writing on the wall couldn’t be more obvious in regards to new consoles, at least from Microsoft and likely from Sony as well. Slowing console sales are one indicator, but perhaps the most telling hint is Microsoft’s first-party release schedule.
The company has typically rotated its two biggest franchises, Halo and Gears of War, over successive holiday periods, with the former coming one year and the latter the next. Yet this time around, Halo 4 saw its release this past September while Gears of War: Judgment is scheduled for a March, 2013 launch. The two biggest franchises released within months of each other? What’s going on?
By Chris Sorensen - Sunday, December 16, 2012 at 8:10 AM - 0 Comments
Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft are struggling to reinvent video games as touchscreens and tablets take over the living room
Nintendo’s 2006 launch of the Wii console marked a new era for video games. With its innovative motion-sensing controllers, used to mimic the swing of a tennis racquet or golf club, the $250 Wii immediately struck a chord with gamers and non-gamers alike. Amazon sold out of its initial stock of sleek, white Wii consoles in just seven minutes.
The Wii’s unexpected success catapulted third-ranked Nintendo to the top of the video game industry, ahead of Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Sony’s PlayStation 3—both of which are more powerful (and more expensive) machines. More importantly, it suggested a much wider potential market for game consoles beyond basement-dwelling teenagers.
But the renaissance has proved short-lived. Console sales have declined dramatically in recent years as existing systems grow long in the tooth. Nintendo posted a loss of $530 million this year, its first since 1981. And competition from tablets and smartphones, with their cheap, downloadable games, threatens to steal away millions of casual gamers. “Tablets and smartphones are the black hole of the consumer electronics industry right now, sucking the growth out of everything else,” says Kaan Yigit, the president of Toronto’s Solutions Research Group, a consumer research firm. “The growth rates we saw after Wii first came out are but a distant memory.”
By Chris Sorensen - Tuesday, September 11, 2012 at 12:40 PM - 0 Comments
Sony’s powerful mobile gaming machine has trouble competing with smartphones, tablets and an Italian plumber
Sony’s Vita portable game console has won positive reviews, but so far consumers are taking a pass. Since first going on sale in December, Sony has sold just 2.2 million of the devices. By contrast, Nintendo has sold 19 million units of its competing 3DS since it went on sale in early 2011. Analysts blame a crowded gaming market increasingly dominated by smartphones and tablets, which also allow people to play games. Gamers, meanwhile, complain about a lack of titles for the Vita. Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai, who took over at the struggling electronics giant in April, responded to the critics this week when he told Reuters that Vita sales are in line with expectations and that the PlayStation 3 got off to a similarly slow start. But in the wake of last year’s shocking US$5.8-billion loss, Hirai needs to do more than just hold the line with Vita. He needs another Walkman.
By Peter Nowak - Monday, July 16, 2012 at 11:55 AM - 0 Comments
If there’s one fact that crystallized a little more last week, it’s that the video game industry is set for some major disruption. Ouya, an Android-running set-top box that is looking for investment via crowd-sourced funding site Kickstarter, made a big splash on Tuesday. The attention came partly because Kickstarter projects are all the rage these days, but also because there is a definite appetite for just the sort of disruption Ouya is promising. The fact that the effort hit its $1million funding goal in no time indicates just how badly the gaming public wants something new.
The frustration was most effectively articulated by Destructoid reviews editor Jim Sterling in his latest video rant, which he posted a day before Ouya hit Kickstarter. To summarize, Sterling thinks video game consoles – primarily the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 – have become “crap PCs” that ultimately defeat their entire purpose. Virtually every console game now requires multiple log-ins, upfront installation, frequent downloadable updates and complicated – and annoying – digital rights management that limits how the game and its assorted content can be used. Whereas once upon a time a person could pop a disc (or cartridge) into the machine and be off to the races in seconds, now there’s a whole slew of hoops to jump through before the action starts.
By Gustavo Vieira - Friday, April 20, 2012 at 11:31 AM - 0 Comments
Tough competition is driving the decline of the former tech giant
Once the dominant force in electronics, Japan has been sidelined lately. The country’s most iconic ﬁrm, Sony, announced an annual loss of $6.4 billion last week. That coincided with news that Japan’s Sharp took an $800-million lifeline from Taiwan-based Hon Hai, the Chinese manufacturer of Apple’s iPhones, iPads, and other gadgets—a move that also shed light on the tough competition driving Japan’s decline.
While smartphones and tablets dominate shopping lists, Chinese and Korean firms have also been moving in on the market for video screens and TVs, traditionally dominated by Japan. In the last quarter of 2011, Korea’s Samsung had a 23 per cent worldwide market share in TVs, followed by another Korean firm, LG Electronics, with 13 per cent, while the combined sales of Sony, Panasonic and Sharp accounted for just 22 per cent, according to research firm DisplaySearch.
A Japanese-government fund recently contributed $2.5 billion to combine the display-panel operations of Sony, Toshiba and Hitachi to fight in another market Samsung leads: small screens for mobile devices. It’s a Hail Mary play from the nation that brought us the VHS recorder, the Walkman and the Game Boy—all nothing but collectors’ items now.
By Peter Nowak - Wednesday, April 4, 2012 at 4:42 PM - 0 Comments
According to Kotaku, which cited inside sources, the next console is code-named Orbis and will be released for the holiday season of 2013. More importantly, the device will lock new games to a PlayStation Network account, thereby rendering them useless to anyone other than the initial buyer.
Sony has a history of trying to lock down its stuff, from copy-protected CDs to proprietary memory cards, which is why many are taking the rumour seriously.
It’s no secret the video game industry hates used games. When chains such as Gamestop/EB Games sell a customer a used game, publishers don’t see a nickel. What makes the studios especially angry is that they spend millions marketing their products, yet the retailers devote more floor space to used games. It’s the free-ride argument.
By Peter Nowak - Friday, February 17, 2012 at 12:38 PM - 0 Comments
Sony’s next-generation handheld video game system, the whimsically named Vita, officially launches on Feb. 22 after shipping out this week to those who pre-ordered it. It’s a very impressive and attractively priced device–you can read my full review here.
At the Vita’s launch party in Los Angeles on Wednesday night, I chatted with Jack Tretton, president and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment America, about the Vita, PlayStation and game trends in general. The Vita, as it turns out, comes along at a time of major change in the gaming industry.
Smartphones and tablets have opened up an entirely new frontier for the industry, with people who wouldn’t previously be caught playing video games now idling away for hours on Angry Birds and the like. Nintendo, Sony’s traditional rival in the handheld market, has already felt the pain, as people turned away from the more expensive and involved software produced for such devices and toward cheaper and simpler mobile games.
By Peter Nowak - Friday, November 18, 2011 at 11:55 AM - 3 Comments
When Sony showed off its futuristic-looking 3D visor at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, few people thought the company would actually follow through with it. Many wrote it off as one of those concept devices that technology companies bring to CES just to get media attention.
Well, nope. Sony has indeed put the visor into production and is currently taking pre-orders. The device officially hits stores in Canada on Nov. 25, although at $800, it’s not much cheaper than a full 3D television.
This is one of those oddities I simply had to try for myself and the folks at Sony were nice enough to lend me one for a week. First off, it’s obviously not for everyone. With its price tag, it’s clearly aimed at gadget lovers who get all the latest and greatest stuff, regardless of cost. Sony says the visor is in high demand through pre-orders so far—I’m willing to bet the vast majority of buyers (or the ultimate recipients of said purchase) are probably males between 25 and 40. Continue…
By Cigdem Iltan - Tuesday, August 23, 2011 at 10:00 AM - 2 Comments
The hacker group’s hit list has grown to include Arab dictatorships and opponents of WikiLeaks
Gone, for Anonymous, are the days of aimless Internet hijinks. The hacker group, once a loosely knit group of cyber-pranksters that formed in 2003, has traded prank pizza deliveries and shock humour for high-profile attacks on authoritarian regimes. The community now attracts both political activists and hackers alike to campaigns targeting everyone from Arab dictatorships to opponents of WikiLeaks.
Last week, Anonymous carried out its latest offensive on an Arab government, when hackers swapped content on the Syrian Ministry of Defence website with a message calling on protesters to take down President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, which has killed an estimated 1,700 citizens since uprisings began five months ago. In June, the group claimed responsibility for revealing the passwords of hundreds of Bahraini, Egyptian, Moroccan and Jordanian government officials’ email accounts. And during the early stirrings of the Tunisian revolution in January, Anons (as the group’s adherents are known) created care packages that included instructions on how to conceal identities online and developed a script to help bloggers and news sources dodge a government-led phishing campaign. “It is simply impossible to list all countries that need help,” the maturing collective proclaimed on the @AnonymousIRC Twitter account on Aug. 9. “We try our best.”
Other recent targets include businesses that withdrew their services from WikiLeaks when, in December, the organization released secret diplomatic cables, and the Orlando, Fla., Chamber of Commerce, after members of the group Food Not Bombs were arrested for feeding the city’s homeless, against local laws. But the clandestine computer hacking group wasn’t always so interested in altruism. While Anons have maintained that their work is ultimately motivated by freedom of speech and anti-censorship ideals, it grew out of the notorious 4Chan message boards: an Internet repository for lolcats, anime and multiple genres of porn.
By Chris Sorensen - Friday, June 17, 2011 at 11:50 AM - 5 Comments
A rash of high-profile thefts reveals just how unsafe the Internet we depend on has become
Visitors to the Conservative Party of Canada’s website last Tuesday were confronted with a shocking message: the Prime Minister had been rushed to hospital in Toronto after choking on a hash brown. Media outlets scrambled to unearth more details about the breakfast-hour emergency only to learn that it was all a big joke. The party’s website had been hacked.
It didn’t take long to find out who was behind the prank. A group calling itself LulzRaft claimed responsibility on Twitter, and later followed up by breaking into the party’s donor database and posting names and emails of more than 5,000 people online. Why did they do it? “The Conservative party was really just a hack of opportunity,” wrote someone purporting to be the hacker in an anonymous email to Maclean’s. “We noticed the vulnerability and realized we could easily create some lulz, and draw some media attention without hurting anyone.” For the uninitiated, “lulz” is Web-slang for laughs—derived from the abbreviation LOL, for “laugh out loud.”
But the Tories aren’t laughing. Nor should they be. It’s an embarrassing breach of security for a governing party that, just a few months earlier, assured Canadians that it had a cyber-security strategy in place. It’s also the latest in a string of brazen attacks on high-profile targets around the globe, ranging from Sony Corp. and Google Inc. to defence contractor Lockheed Martin and the International Monetary Fund. In addition to attention-seekers like LulzRaft, experts say many more hackers are quietly working on behalf of organized crime and even foreign governments—so much so that Washington is now talking about cyberattacks as a potential “act of war.”
By macleans.ca - Friday, June 3, 2011 at 1:33 PM - 0 Comments
Mysterious ‘LulzSec’ group claims responsibility
A hacker team calling themselves ‘LulzSec’, claims to have breached Sony’s data security, stealing over 1,000,000 unguarded passwords. Sony is investigating the hackers’ claims, while at the same time trying to restore its image since the corporation’s major data breach in April—in which hundreds of millions of user credit card numbers were stolen through its PlayStation company. The names and whereabouts of the ‘LulzSec’ hackers are unknown, though the group has been present online, taunting Sony via Twitter and their own website. Sony is under pressure to account for its hesitation in informing customers of the breach in April.
By Jesse Brown - Friday, April 29, 2011 at 11:52 AM - 3 Comments
Now, a moment of tense silence following Sony’s massive data breach. In all, 77 million users had their personal data exposed to malicious hackers: names, addresses, email addresses, birthdates, passwords, logins, credit card numbers (encrypted?), and perhaps most disturbingly, security questions and answers, which could be used to gain access to any number of other online services, including bank accounts. After ordering a new credit card and scrambling to change passwords and settings on as many sites as possible as quickly as possible, what can an exposed PlayStation user do but hold their breath, sue Sony, and hope for the best?
While these nervous individuals ponder their fate, let’s consider a larger question: what does this mean for privacy itself? Continue…
By Chris Sorensen - Thursday, January 27, 2011 at 10:40 AM - 2 Comments
Flat panel 3-D television sets first came out early last year. But few people own one, or know anyone who does.
Flat panel 3-D television sets first came out early last year. But few people own one, or know anyone who does. The slower-than-expected sales are believed to be the result of a dearth of available 3-D content to watch, which is why television makers like Sony and Panasonic are joining forces with broadcasters to fix the situation.
Sony recently teamed up with two TV stations in Japan to offer the country’s first 3-D television series, a drama called Tokyo Control, according to the Wall Street Journal. The show is about the workers at the Tokyo Air Traffic Control Center and was made with input from production staff who worked on James Cameron’s 3-D Hollywood blockbuster Avatar. Panasonic, meanwhile, has produced a 3-D music program for satellite TV. Sony predicts that 3-D models will account for 10 per cent of the market by early next year, and that it will have sold 25 million of the sets by March 2011.
By Jason Kirby - Thursday, April 1, 2010 at 9:00 AM - 10 Comments
To counter the Wii system, Sony launched a rival called Move
It’s rarely a good sign when analysts and bloggers attach the suffix “-like” to your competitor’s product to describe your latest, cutting-edge innovation. But for Sony, which has finally unveiled a motion-sensor controller for its PlayStation 3 video game console—four years and 65 million units after Nintendo’s Wii first hit store shelves—“Wii-like” will have to do.
At a gaming event in San Francisco, Sony officially debuted the Move. Like the Wii, users hold the Sony controller in their hands and as they move, the game responds to their actions. But what sets Move apart is the PlayStation Eye camera, which tracks a glowing ball atop the controller and lets games better track your 3-D movements in space. The controller is due out later this year and will sell for around $100. Early reviews of the Move controller have been mixed. Some bloggers dismissed it as too little, too late, while others found it more refined than the Wii.
Still, for all the time Sony has had to come up with its response, many analysts seemed underwhelmed. Of course, the small matter of the Great Recession might explain why Sony has held off releasing its own motion controller until now—sales of video game consoles and games have been badly battered by the economic downturn.
But Sony has a good reason to get a move on Move. Later this year, Microsoft will begin selling its own much anticipated motion control system, known as Project Natal. It involves no controllers whatsoever. Instead it relies on advanced infrared and motion-sensor technology so that players’ whole bodies become the controller. Microsoft even tapped director Steven Spielberg to unveil the device, prompting much speculation about hybrid movie-video games that star players in their own feature films.
Both the Move and Natal are still several months from launch, but already Wedbush Morgan Securities analyst Michael Pachter has predicted Microsoft will outsell Sony five to one. Ultimately, Move may end up going nowhere.
By Jaime Weinman - Thursday, February 25, 2010 at 3:00 PM - 0 Comments
In an era when classical recordings don’t sell, Sony just got into a bidding war over a pianist
A classical pianist is worth millions to a major company? What is this, 1940? The signing of Chinese pianist Lang Lang by Sony’s music division seems like a reminder of a time when classical recording was big business. The story was broken in a gossipy, tabloid-style way, with Sony refusing to officially announce the signing until after it had leaked out. Music journalist Norman Lebrecht, who got his information from the pianist’s rebuffed former label, Deutsche Grammophon (which clearly didn’t want to lose him), reported that Sony had paid approximately $3 million—a figure the company has not confirmed or denied—to get Lang and his famous unkempt hair. In an era when classical CDs may sell only a few hundred copies, Lang is the only young artist who’s treated like a pop star, with a contract to match. “He’s his generation’s best hope at a real live classical music superstar,” says Anne Midgette, music critic for the Washington Post. He’s also the industry’s best hope for making classical records profitable.
Lang, who will be in Toronto for a concert on April 6, is the only classical musician to get competing, high-priced offers from major labels. Most classical headliners today are lucky if they can even get what Midgette describes as “shorter contracts for two or three albums.” Bucking this trend, Sony wants Lang to record exclusively for them, the way cellist Yo-Yo Ma does, and they’re willing to pay for the privilege, the way labels paid for the likes of Luciano Pavarotti. With his showboating, crowd-pleasing concert style, which often involves closing his eyes and rocking back and forth in ecstasy, Lang is seen as a throwback to an era when classical stars really were equal to pop stars. Lebrecht, who is on his way to Ottawa to talk about his new book Why Mahler?, says that Lang’s contract is a tribute to the fact that he’s not only a star but “a burgeoning commercial brand.”
That brand is good for a label that wants to re-establish itself as a player in the music business. Sony dumped most of its classical artists years ago in a frenzy of downsizing, but now Midgette thinks that the company “is trying to rouse itself to become a major player in whatever the new market is.” Lebrecht explains that, from a corporate point of view, it’s important for Sony to fix its classical operation in case it someday wants to sell its music division. Having Lang on the roster, he says, allows Sony to “pretend to look like a record label once more.” Even in a record industry ravaged by the recession, it’s good business for a company to have some classical stars on its books, and Lebrecht says that Lang is “the only artist who could fit that strategy.”
By Jaime Weinman - Friday, March 20, 2009 at 9:42 AM - 4 Comments
If you thought there was fan controversy over the idea of having to buy a complete Mary Tyler Moore box set to get the last three seasons, Sony’s announcement of a “Norman Lear Collection” will cause more controversy, or at least it should, because it’s a very strange and poorly-thought-out concept for a set. It appears to be one big box set with the first seasons, and only the first seasons, of all the hit Norman Lear shows that Sony owns — All in the Family, Good Times, Maude, The Jeffersons, Sanford & Son, One Day at a Time, Mary Hartman.
All these first seasons have been released on DVD already, but more importantly, most of these shows have not been completed on DVD. (All in the Family, Lear’s best show, is still stalled at season 6.) All of the DVD releases are without extras, but this box set has a bunch of interesting new extras for each show, including interviews with Lear and the two unaired pilots of All in the Family. So if you love All in the Family but aren’t quite as big on some of these other shows, you’d have to get the box set to get AITF extras, all the while wondering where the rest of the seasons are. Even if they make these shows available separately, there’s still the weirdness of having to buy the first season again to get the extras while the later seasons aren’t available yet. And of course the first seasons are not the best seasons for most of these shows; AITF, like most great sitcoms, experimented in its first season and really hit its stride in the second season.
So this is just a strange idea for a set. The extras look really good, but this is one case where a “best-of” collection would have been a better idea; if they had included the “best” episodes from each series, including episodes that haven’t been on DVD before, that would have been more like Sony’s Larry Sanders box set (where elaborate new extras were affixed to a selection of new-to-DVD episodes). But this makes no sense.